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N. Korea not rebuilding flood-ravaged areas near border to stem defectors

All News 16:49 January 15, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is intentionally not rebuilding flood-ravaged areas nears its border with China to stem the flow of defectors, a U.S. based media outlet claimed Sunday.

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), commercial satellite photos taken of parts of Heoryong City in North Hamgyong Province in late October showed very little progress being made on repairs to neighborhoods.

The region in the northeast part of the country was hard hit by a typhoon and torrential rains in late August that caused extensive damage and loss of lives.

It said two districts of the city not being rebuilt are all close to the Sino-North Korean border which in the past was a favorite hiding place for defectors as they waited their opportunity to make their escape to China. Before they were devastated by the flood, there were 400-500 households in the region.

RFA said that while Pyongyang neglected to rebuild these areas, photos showed over 50 apartment buildings going up in the southeastern part of the border city. These homes are being built in open land farther away from the border.

The move indicates that the North is taking active steps to get rid of hiding places used by defectors in the past.

Last year, South Korea reported a rise in the number of North Koreans arriving in the country, with the total that have arrived so far surpassing the 30,000 mark.

Since taking power in late 2011, incumbent leader Kim Jong-un, has tightened control over the border. More recently, there have been reports that commanders of units stationed along the border have pledged not to allow a single person to escape to China.


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